What is a Revenue Center?

Revenue Center

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Revenue Center

A “Revenue Center” is a segment or department within an organization that is responsible for generating sales or revenue. It is distinct from a profit center in that a revenue center’s performance is evaluated based on the revenue it generates, not on its profitability. In other words, the primary focus of a revenue center is to bring in revenue, without direct consideration of the costs or expenses associated with producing that revenue.

Here are some key points about revenue centers:

  • Focus on Revenue: The main responsibility of a revenue center is to maximize sales or revenue. The management of such centers typically focuses on activities like sales promotions, customer relationship management, and expanding market share.
  • Performance Metrics : The performance of a revenue center is typically gauged by comparing actual revenue to budgeted or forecasted revenue. Metrics might include total revenue, revenue growth rate, and market share.
  • No Control Over Costs: Unlike profit centers, revenue centers typically do not have control over the costs of producing goods or services. Their main goal is to generate sales, irrespective of costs.
  • Examples: Common examples of revenue centers include sales departments in large companies, retail store branches that focus solely on selling (without considering store operating costs), and ticket sales departments in entertainment venues.
  • Benefits: Using revenue centers can be beneficial for larger organizations that want to separate the responsibilities of generating revenue from the responsibilities of managing costs. By focusing solely on revenue, these centers can hone in on sales strategies without getting entangled in production or operational cost considerations.
  • Potential Pitfalls: One potential downside is that if revenue centers are not well-aligned with the broader company objectives, they might prioritize short-term sales over long-term profitability or customer relationships.

In contrast, in a Profit Center , both revenue and costs are considered. A profit center’s performance is evaluated based on the profit it generates (i.e., revenue minus costs). Profit centers have both the responsibility and authority to manage and control their costs to maximize profit.

Example of a Revenue Center

Imagine a global hotel chain named “GlobalStay”. Within this organization, there are multiple departments or centers. For this example, let’s focus on two specific centers: the room booking department and the hotel’s individual branches.

  • Room Booking Department as a Revenue Center:
    • Role: This department’s primary responsibility is to ensure that as many rooms as possible are booked throughout the year.
    • Strategies: They might implement various strategies such as promotional deals, partnerships with travel agencies, online advertisements, and loyalty programs.
    • Performance Metrics: The room booking department’s success is measured purely on the number of rooms booked and the revenue generated from those bookings.
    • Expenses: While they have operational expenses (like salaries of employees, advertising costs, and system maintenance), these costs aren’t the primary metric for evaluating their performance. Their main goal is to maximize revenue.
  • Individual Hotel Branch as a Profit Center:
    • In contrast to the room booking department, an individual hotel branch not only earns revenue from room bookings but also incurs costs such as staff salaries, utilities, food supplies for their restaurant, maintenance, and more.
    • Their objective is to maximize profit. This means they not only need to ensure high occupancy rates (revenue) but also manage and optimize their costs effectively.
    • Performance Metrics: An individual hotel branch’s success is measured based on the profit they generate (revenue from room bookings, food & beverage sales, etc. minus all their operating costs).


Let’s assume the Room Booking Department launches a global promotion, offering significant discounts on room rates to boost bookings. As a result, there’s a surge in bookings across all hotel branches. From the perspective of the revenue center (Room Booking Department), this campaign is a success because it significantly increased revenue.

However, individual hotel branches (profit centers) might face challenges. With increased bookings, they might experience higher operational costs (more guests mean more utilities used, more staff needed, more wear and tear, etc.). If the discount on room rates was too deep and the associated costs for serving these extra guests too high, the branches might see reduced profitability despite the increased bookings.

This example underscores the difference in objectives and challenges faced by revenue centers versus profit centers within the same organization.

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